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Written By: Joy Acey
I didn’t put my black dress on for the funeral. I felt sad I couldn’t attend the service. But Ms Joyner the English teacher at McDougle Middle School wore a long black dress to listen to the dirge and Mrs. Gerhardt said a prayer for the departed. The children waved good bye and solemnly engraved tombstones with the names of the dead verbs. They’ll miss the words, but dead verbs do nothing to add to the liveliness of their stories and the children agreed to try to find more active words to replace their over worked dead friends. Here’s a list of the departed words that slow work down by telling rather than showing:
am can be have been are could be has been is may be had been was might be could have been were must be may have been am being shall be might have been are being should be must have been is being will be shall have been was being would be should have been were being will have been would have been
Linking verbs buried that day include:
appear look sound become remain stay feel seem taste grow smell turn If you can substitute a “to be” verb for any of these words and have the sentence still make sense, it is a linking verb and doesn’t help the action. For example,
John felt tired. John felt the tire. (John is tired.) (John is the tire.) Yes, it’s a linking verb. No, it’s an action verb.
Now that the funeral is over the children have all agreed to try to write their stories with more showing and less telling and they are doing this by letting the dead verbs rest in peace.
****This piece has previously been published in Once Upon A Time.
Once Upon A Time, a magazine for children’s writers and illustrators.
Joy is a children’s writer. She lives in NC with her husband, 12 year old son and a silly Welsh Springer Spaniel who brought home a fish from the creek this week. She teaches writing in the schools and does workshops for her regional SCBWI. She hosts quarterly gatherings at her local Barnes and Noble books store for children’s writers. She also edits the NC Poetry Society newsletter and has received grants from the North Carolina Writer’s Network.